We planned to go rock climbing around these peaks above Lecco, known as Grignone and Grignetta. They are the local crags, the training grounds, for some of the most famous alpinists:
Lago di Como is shaped like a big inverted Y. Here is the Lecco side:
The town of Bellagio sits at the point of where the branches meet:
The snow-capped ridge in the center, distant, is probably the Swiss-Italian border:
It is a quaint little town with nice shops and streets to ramble through:
Here is the shrine atop Madonna del Ghisallo, the hill to the south of Bellagio.
According to legend, the Medieval count Ghisallo was being attacked by bandits when he saw an image of Virgin Mary at a shrine. He ran to it and was saved from the robbers. The apparition became known as the Madonna del Ghisallo, and she became a patroness of local travelers. In later times, Madonna del Ghisallo (the hill) was made part of the Giro di Lombardia bicycle race. As you can see, they are all filled up with memorabilia inside, and are constructing a large museum next door to house these bits of history. For many people in Italy, bicycling is a religion:
Sometimes I like to just stop and appreciate the simple things, like the scalloped design of a walkway. It's so much more inspiring than asphalt!
Well, our first day of sunshine we explored Bellagio, and the next day we decided it was time to climb Grignetta. Here's a drive-by shot through the car windshield:
We had to park a bit from the trailhead because the steep road was too iced over to make it up in the car. It was pretty tough to walk it hiking boots too. After slip-sliding on pure ice at the start of the trail, we get into the verglassed rock scrambling. It quickly turns into a don't fall section, but a bit of via ferrata makes it seem less sketchy:
This was the first time I've been in really hard snow. Everyone else we saw that day had crampons and very fashionable outdoor attire. I was disappointed at first that we weren't going to be doing roped rock climbing, but this snow adventure quickly turned exciting enough:
It's hard to get a sense of the steepness of things- it's all foreshortened. There is an awesome-looking moderate 12-pitch linkup on the rock on the right side- Sigaro e Magnaghi. I want to do it next time we go during spring or summer.
This is slightly tilted, but it gives you a better sense of what it feels like to be there. Falling would be supremely ungood.
But it is just beautiful everywhere you look, near and far:
We got a very late start, and were ready to bail. We hadn't really planned on summitting, even though I privately nursed a hope that we would. It just didn't seem wise, what with everyone in crampons, and thinking about reversing some of the sketch moves in slippery hiking boots on steep hard ice/snow with grave exposure. My lady is pretty cautious on American rock, but in her local element she just casually and silently alights little non-trivial sections that give me pause to consider the consequences. I'm used to having "adventure climbing" days and "lovin' it with the missus" days be separate types of climbing experiences, after we reached an understanding in our first year together. The formula of being lost, cold, after dark, can't find the tent/campground, cutting or destroying ropes, etc... was becoming a recurring theme and we broke that pattern. Well, on this day, my redline adventure meter was reading full, and she with her vast experience in this her backyard crag, well she was just in her comfort zone. So it was a beautiful day filled with love and full-on adventure.
As I was saying, we decided to bail. But after a late lunch with waning daylight, she proposed the idea of going the last bit to the top. I'm glad she did!
This here's an emergency shelter for people who get caught high in storms.
At the top, they have a memorial to famous Lecco Spiders who are no more... you'll probably recognize a few names in there, including Walter Bonatti, Ricardo Cassin, and the folks who made the first undisputed ascent of Torre Egger in 1974 ( Daniele Chiappa, Mario Conti, Casimiro Ferrari, and Pino Negri). With a backyard crag like this, it's easy to see why these folks were inspired to visit the grand mountains of the world:
Well, we had to consider that the barely possible frozen-but-thawed snow we climbed up would soon turn utterly impossible without crampons when the sun went down. That issue was more serious than just needing headlamps, so we didn't mess around much during the descent:
But just too damn beautiful everywhere to not take pictures. You notice I'm behind at this point...
It worked out pretty perfectly, getting back down with the fading sun, before the fun adventure turned into an epic.
We wrapped up the day with a nice icy stroll back to the car:
Well, our last sunny day was really just a few hours of sunshine, and we got out of the house for a little strolling around Monza. It is a pretty walking-friendly town with lots of shops.
Lots of booths set up for selling during the holiday season:
But I was more interested in just looking around than buying anything:
Well, it was mostly a family-focused indoors trip, and very enjoyable for that. Even so, we managed to have some memorable experiences outside too. Parting shots from the plane, shortly after take-off from Malpensa airport right next to Monta Rosa. In quick succession we flew over Il Cervino (Matterhorn) and the Grand Jorasses & Monte Bianco, with a nice arc of the Alps cradling northern Italy.
Ciao tutti, e buonaventure